Coffee is an essential part of the Ugandan economy. A large portion of the population works in coffee related industries as the nation grows both Robusta beans – a crop native to Uganda and the Arabica beans from nearby Ethiopia.
African countries export about 21 percent of internationally traded coffee and Uganda is the leading exporter from Africa. In 1991, the Ugandan government privatized coffee production and this led to a huge growth in the sector.
The Robusta beans is the main type of coffee produced in Uganda and is considered to be one of the best in the world and commands a considerable premium. Robusta being at its most natural home in Uganda grows well and in a perfect environment without chemical fertilizers, fungicides or pesticides.
Robusta coffee has a hard bean which gives a very good roast. It has a mild soft sweet and neutral taste as well as properties ideal for survival of the crop throughout the year. Coffee in Uganda is harvested all year around with two major peaks from November to February and June to September.
On many Ugandan small holder coffee farms, coffee is inter-cropped with plantain, which is a main staple food. Many farmers depend on the coffee crop as their main source of income.
UGANDA’s Robusta coffee is now being used as benchmark for coffees from other countries in London stated David Kiwanuka, Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) manager.
Marketing of coffee is mainly handled by middlemen who mobilise the coffee from farms to primary processing factories. The external marketing is handled by 28 exporters. The majority have facilities for export reprocessing. However, the government does still exert control on the industry, with flow out of the country controlled by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority.